Streamlining errant drug companies essential
IT IS indeed unfortunate that the parliamentary committee on the health and family welfare ministry had to repeat its request, made some months back, to the government for actions against 62 pharmaceutical companies for producing substandard drugs. According to a New Age report on Wednesday, quoting the chairman of the committee, it recommended punitive actions against the errant companies on the basis of the findings of its sub-committee which visited different drug companies and found a host of companies not complying with hygiene standards on the production floor. Regrettably, however, the Drug Administration has failed to implement the recommendations thus far. Intriguingly still, while, in the report submitted to the committee on March 22, the drug administration informed that it would take actions against 27 companies, it conveyed to the committee on Tuesday that it would take steps against nine companies only. Encouragingly, the committee appears firm on its position and has asked the authorities to take stringent actions against all the errant companies and come up in three months with a compliance report.
It need not be overemphasised that substandard drugs not only prove ineffective in the treatment of disease but may put the life of the patient at risk as well. Additionally, our drugs have a growing market in different countries, especially the least-developed and developing ones, which makes a significant contribution to our foreign exchange earnings every year. Hence, the drug companies can in no way be allowed to compromise on quality. Meanwhile, it cannot be denied that, in a bid to cash in on the expanding market—domestic and international—for medicine, pharmaceutical companies have mushroomed across the country over the recent decades. Worse still, apparently due to lack of monitoring on the part of the government, many of them have been producing and marketing here medicines of sub-standard qualities over the years.
The government needs to realise that its inability, if not unwillingness, to take actions against the errant drug companies not only undermines its electoral pledge to ‘bring self-sufficiency in the production of medicines of international standard’ but also poses danger to public health. It immediately needs to pay heed to the recommendations by the parliamentary standing committee.
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